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SOC*2700 Ch 10.pdf

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University of Guelph
SOC 2700
C Yule

Chapter 10: Control Theories - control theories assume that all people naturally would commit crimes is left to their own devices - the key question is why most people do not commit crime - control theories answer this question by focusing on special “controlling” forces that restrain the person from committing crimes - these forces break down in certain situations, resulting in crime and other “uncontrolled” behaviours - thus individuals are said to commit crime because of the weakness of forces restraining them from doing so, not because of the strength of forces driving them todo so Early Control Theories: Reiss to Nye - in 1951, Albert Reiss published an articles where he examined a number of factors related to the control perspective to see if they might be used to predict the revocation of probation among juvenile offenders - he found that the revocation of probation was more likely when the juvenile was psychiatrically diagnosed as having weak ego or superego control and when the psychiatrist recommended either intensive psychotherapy in the community or treatment in a closed institution - he argued that such diagnoses and recommendations were based on an assessment of the juvenileʼs “personal controls” - that is, the ability to refrain form meetings needs in ways that conflicted with the norms and rules of the community - also, probation was more likely to be revoked when juveniles did not regularly attend school and when they were described as behavioural problems - these were a measure of the acceptance or submission of the juvenile to “social controls” - the control of socially approved institutions - findings of support for this were weak - in 1957, Jackson Toby introduced the concept of “stakes in conformity” - how much a person has to lose when he or she breaks the law - he argued that all youths are tempted to break the law, but some youths risk much more than others when they give into these temptations - youth who do well in school not only risk being punished but also jeopardize their future careers - they have high stakes in conformity - youths who do poorly in school risk only being punished for their offense - peer support for deviance can develop in communities that have a large number of youths with low stakes in conformity, so that the community develops even higher crime rates - F. Ivan Nye punished a study that focused on the family as the single-most-important source of social control for adolescents - he argued that most delinquent behaviour was the result of insufficient social control and that delinquent behaviour is “caused” by positive factors was relatively rare - social control was used as a broad term that included direct controls imposed by means of restrictions and punishments, internal control exercised through conscience, indirect control related to affectional identification with parents and noncriminal persons, and the availability of legitimate means to satisfy needs - Nye argued that if all the needs of the individual could be met adequately and without delay, without violating laws, there would be no point in such violation, and a minimum of internal, indirect, and direct control would suffice to secure conformity - in his study, Nye found that the most delinquent youths were more likely to be given either complete freedom or no freedom at all; to have larger sums of money available; to be rejecting of their parents and to disapprove of their parentsʼ appearance; and to describe their parents as being seldom cheerful and often moody, nervous, irritable, difficult to please, and as taking things out on the youths when things went wrong - youths who were least delinquent were more likely to come from families that attended church regularly, did not move often and were from rural areas - Nyeʼs contribution was quite significant because he undertook a broad empirical test of the theory, which supported his theory, but should be interpreted with caution Matzaʼs Delinquency and Drift - modern control theories present a strong challenge to the more common view that juvenile delinquency is caused by special biological, psychological or social factors - in Delinquency and Drift, Matza stated that traditional theories of delinquency emphasize constraint and differentiation: delinquent are said to be different in some fundamental way, and that difference constrains them to commit their delinquencies - Matza said if these theories were true, delinquents would be committing delinquency all the time and they canʼt explain the fact that most delinquents “age out” - Matza proposed an alternate image for delinquents that emphasizes freedom and similarity, rather than constraint and differentiation, that image is drift - drift is said to occur in areas of the social structure in which control has been loosened, freeing the delinquent to respond to whatever conventional or criminal forces happen to come along - the positive causes of delinquency, then “may be accidental or unpredictable from the point of view of any theoretical frame of reference, and deflection from the delinquent path may be similarly accidental or unpredictable - a theory of delinquency would not attempt to describe the positive causes, but rather the conditions under which social control is loosened - Matzaʼs criticism of traditional theories of delinquency focused on the sociological argument that their behaviours are generated by commitment to delinquent values - Matza argued that delinquents portray themselves this way because they err unwilling to appear “chicken” - private interviews revealed delinquents do not values the delinquent behaviour itself, they described the behaviour as morally wrong but argued there are extenuating circumstances so their own delinquent actions are “guiltless” - delinquents do not reject conventional moral values, but “neutralize” them in a wide variety of circumstances so that they are able to commit delinquent actions - once the moral bind of the law has been loosened by the sense of irresponsibility and the sense of injustice, the juvenile is in a state of drift and is then free to choose among a variety of actions, some delinquent, some lawful - there are some “positive” causes of delinquency in the sense that there are reasons by the juvenile chooses delinquent as opposed to lawful behaviours - the juvenile feels that he exercises no control over the circumstances of his life and the destiny awaiting him - he moves to make something happen, to experience himself as a cause of the events Hirschiʼs Social Control Theory - Travis Hirschi argued that it is not necessary to explain the motivation for delinquency, since “we are all animals and thus all naturally capable of committing criminal aces” - he proposed a comprehensive control theory that individuals who were tightly bonded by social groups, such as the family, school and peers, would be less likely to commit delinquent acts -
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